My Plea To You, Fellow Military Spouse: Don’t Burn Your Bridges

burning bridges

It’s a small world…and the military village is even smaller. If you haven’t experienced it yet, at some point you’ll notice almost each person in the military community is interconnected somehow.

Kevin Bacon’s six degrees of separation is more like TWO degrees of separation in our world (if that).

Suffice it to say, the likelihood of re-connecting with those we’ve encountered in our travels is much greater than the civilian population. Maybe that’s why we say “See ya later” instead of “Goodbye” when our friends and neighbors PCS.

This is just one of the many reasons we should avoid burning bridges when we leave one duty station for another.

That one spouse you engaged in a pissing match with at your previous duty station could very well be your neighbor at the next one.

AWKWARD

We’ve all most likely experienced neighborhood drama (especially when living on base/post, where we’re all living so close to one another). But reigniting a years-long feud between mil-fams brings a different kind of challenge into the mix. Unless you’re willing to relocate elsewhere, you’ll be stuck in a perpetual state of awkward gazes, weird conversations or flat out RBF (Resting “B” Face).

That’s where I come in.

This is my plea to let those bygones be bygones and avoid burning bridges. Not just because it’s the right thing to do, and not just because we have bigger fish to fry. Because that neighbor you’re feuding with…who seems to be making your life total hell…well, they could end up saving your life. That’s what happened to me.

WHAT HAD HAPPENED WAS…

I met Amy and her husband John when they were pregnant with their 2nd child. Their son was two years old and they had just moved in next-door. It was the day before Thanksgiving and their plan was to go to Golden Corral for family dinner. My husband and I just wouldn’t stand for that. We invited our new neighbors over to our house for Thanksgiving dinner and formed a fast friendship. Amy and John were a few years younger than us. She was 19 and he was 23. My kids were older than hers, but Amy was great with them.

I ended up introducing Amy to the rest of the neighborhood over the next few weeks. After a few months, one of the resident “bad apples” decided to kick up some drama, and the next thing we knew, Amy and I were no longer on speaking terms. We didn’t “have it out” or anything, we just stopped talking.

A few months later, while my husband was away, my kids and I all got very sick. I was in bed with a fever and throwing up and my kids weren’t much better. My daughter came upstairs to tell me my son had thrown up and wasn’t sure what to do. I think at that point I was completely delirious from the fever and apparently wasn’t making any sense. So my daughter went next-door to ask Amy for help.

Amy came over, took my temperature and it was 104.9! She told me to get into the bathtub “RIGHT NOW” or else. I didn’t want to so she threatened to call 911 if I didn’t. So I got into the bathtub fully clothed and she proceeded to pour water over my burning forehead. She called her mother, a nurse, who told her to get me to the hospital STAT.

So Amy called another neighbor to sit with my kids and hers, and drove me to the ER. She went back to my house and watched my kids for the rest of the evening because they made me stay. The next morning, she was there when I was released and drove me home, made sure my kids were ok, and set me up on the couch downstairs. I said, “Thank you,” she said, “You’re welcome,” and that was the last time we ever spoke. She PCS’d a year later, I did as well not that long after.

That was 10 years ago.

Last year, I was thinking about her and decided I needed to contact her. I realized that 10 years shouldn’t have had to pass for me to pull my head out of my rear and have a conversation. She was like family to me, and it was time to swallow my pride and pray she could do the same. When I finally found her Facebook page (she had remarried and her name had changed) …my jaw just DROPPED. Amy had apparently been battling lung cancer and passed away just two weeks before I went searching for her on social media…she was 28.

Even though I wasn’t the only one who had fallen prey to the neighborhood drama of base housing, I feel awful that I hadn’t reached out sooner. I feel awful that I’ll never be able to make amends.

So this is a plea, from me to you: Our village is small, and we have bigger fish to fry. The next time you’re faced with a burning bridge, PLEASE…put out the fire and build one instead.

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